18 Toughest Entrance Exams and Interviews In the World | 2019 Edition

For students, career is much important than anything else, and this is the era where you can find many students bundling themselves into libraries, opening their notes to inspect the preparation for the dreaded exams.

Thoughts such as how to get in one of the best institutes for a bright future and how to prepare for their entrance exams create a storm in the student’s mind.

Most of the job seekers feel the same kind of pressure while preparing for the interview. Of course, the path of getting selected is not simple, but to increase your knowledge we have gathered some of the toughest entrance exams and interviews all around the world.

18. Mensa

Mensa

Mensa is the oldest and largest high IQ society in the world. To enter this nonprofit organization you will need to have one thing – intelligence within the top two percent of the world’s population, in other words, an IQ of 132 on the Stanford-Binet scale.

The best thing about Mensa is there is no age bar; people can take the test at any age. The main aim of the organization is to foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, encourage research and provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.

17. LNAT

LNAT

National admission test for law (LNAT) is an entrance test for law universities in the United Kingdom. It was established at the leading urgency of Oxford University as a solution to the problem that many schools while trying to select from an increasingly competitive pool with similar high A-levels. There are 9 law universities that take admission through LNAT, conducted at hundred of test centers worldwide.

The candidate is given 2 hours 15 minutes to complete an essay and 42 multiple-choice questions aimed at logical reasoning and reading comprehension. Most of the questions are open-ended topics about student-related issues and other familiar subject matter. The essays are individually marked by checkers at the respective universities.

16. GRE

gre

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a common exam for seeking a seat in all English speaking countries, especially American Graduate Schools. It’s a standardized exam created and administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Service) in 1949. The cost to appear in a test is $205 US dollars, although ETS provides financial help to applicants who prove economic hardship. Over 655,000 candidates appeared in 2018.

The exam measures your quantitative and verbal reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills. The exam is adaptive on a section-by-section basis, which means performance on the first section determines the difficulty of the second section presented. The duration of the exam is 3 hours 45 minutes, including 1-minute break after first and second section, and a 10-minute break after the third section.

15. College Scholastic Ability Test

College Scholastic Ability TestImage credit: CNBC

College Scholastic Ability Test (or CSAT) is a standardized test accepted by South Korean universities. It plays an important role in education in South Korea. It was made official in 1994 and managed by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation. The exam is praised for its meritocratic factor, efficiency and high international results.

CSAT is often described as “the chance to make or break one’s career”. About 20% of student re-apply for the exam. It is usually conducted in November and on the exam day, stock markets open late, government employees are allowed to be late so that they don’t cause traffic jams. Even, airplanes are grounded so the noise does not disturb the students.

14. Google

Google

Nowadays, Google isn’t hiring the stereotypical, hoody-wearing programmers with massive intellects. They tend to hire people with emotional intelligence who can work as a team.

To get into Google, you must be able to process on the fly, make decisions regarding the problems you have never seen before, and you should be able to stand up and get your voice heard in a productive way.

And of course, computer algorithms and programming languages are the most important skills on which you will be judged. There is no hard and fast rule how long will be the interview process. However, this is not as simple as it sounds: only 1% of applicants get hired.

Read: 20 Greatest Computer Programmers Of All Time

13. Nvidia

Nvidia

Nvidia develops Graphics Processing Units for the gaming market as well as chip units for mobile computing. According to Glassdoor, it is one of the top 25 companies that give the toughest job interviews.

Getting selected is a two-phase process. The first one is a written test that covers topics like finite state machines, pipelining, cache organization, digital CMOS design, and C programming concepts. The next phase is a technical interview.

Rather than seeing the educational background, the company focuses on candidates’ technical knowledge and programming skills. In particular, a lot of emphases is made on basic assembly language problems (based on any microprocessor).

12. CAT

cat

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted every year by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for selecting students for their business administration programs. Before 2009, it was a paper-based test conducted on a single day for all candidates. In May 2009, it was announced that CAT would be a computer-based test starting from 2009 and students can choose their own exam date every November.

CAT is a 3-hour exam that tests your quantitative ability, reading comprehension, data interpretation, verbal ability, and logical reasoning. Every year, more than 200,000 students apply for CAT exam and only 1500 get admission in IIMs.

11. GATE

GATE

GATE stands for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, conducted by Indian Institute of Technology every year for admissions in post-graduate education programs. The GATE score is also used by different public sector undertakings for recruiting graduate engineers in entry-level positions.

The exam is designed to test a comprehensive understanding of several undergraduate subjects in engineering and science. It’s a 3-hour exam that contains 65 question worth a maximum of 100 marks. From 2014 onward, all papers are computer-based. More than one million students apply every year, out of which only 2000 get admission in top colleges or public sectors.

10. NASA Astronaut Candidate Program

NASA Astronaut Candidate Program

The NASA accepts applications for the position of astronaut candidate on an as-needed basis. Even if you are a topper of the university who have attended plenty of space camps, you have to wait for NASA to call you.

What do you need to have? At least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or minimum 1,000 pilot-in-command times in jet aircraft. This is a week-long process of personal interviews and medical screening. The orientation is required for both civilian and military candidates under final consideration. Once selected, the complete background investigation is performed.

Read: 30 Amazing NASA Inventions That We Use In Our Daily Life

9. LSAT

lsat

The LSAT (stands for Law School Admission Test) is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States, Canada, Australia and a growing number of other countries. It was started back in 1948, and the current form of the exam hasn’t been changed since 1991.

The LSAT is designed to measure 3 skills – reading comprehension, logical and analytical reasoning. The exam consists of a total of six sections: four multiple-choice sections, one writing and one experimental section. It is conducted four times a year, however, a candidate is allowed to appear not more than 3 times within a two year period.

8. UPSC

UPSC

India’s central agency Union Public Service Commission is responsible for conducting various exams for many government jobs. It conducts the Indian Forest Service Examination, Civil Services Examination, Engineering Services Examination, National Defence Academy Examination, Combined Medical Services Examination, etc.

Most of the exams fall under UPSC and they all test verbal and logical reasoning. Initially, there is a preliminary phase where candidates face objective questions, then there is the main phase where they appear for subjective questions, and then selected ones are called for an interview process. The success rate is flimsy 0.1 – 0.3 %.

7. USMLE Series

USMLE

USMLE stands for the United States Medical Licensing Examination sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards. Physicians with M.D degree need to pass this exam in order to practice medicine in the US.

The exam is divided into 3 part process that tests fundamental patient-centered skills, ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principle that are important in health and disease. Step 3 is the most difficult phase. It’s a 16-hour exam divided over 2 days, tests on each day should be completed within 8 hours. There are total 454 multiple choice questions (256 on the first day and 198 on the second) and candidates get maximum 1 hour of break each day.

Read: 12 Best Hospitals In The World

6. Gaokao

GaokaoImage credit: BBC

Gaokao is the National Higher Education Entrance Examination held in China. The exam is essential to get into almost all higher education institute at the undergraduate level. It is conducted annually and since 2001, the age restriction to appear in this exam has been lifted. However, most students appear in the exam during the last year of high school.

The exam duration is 9 hours and it is conducted over a period of 2 days. Mathematics, English and Chinese literature are compulsory for all students. Only 0.2% of students get into the top five colleges of the country.

In order to maximize results, students put their extreme effort. In fact, some female students take medicines to delay their menstrual cycle. In 2007, one family hid the death of a girl’s father for two months, so she can focus on her exam.

5. IIT-JEE

iit jee

The Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination was first conducted in 1960. It’s an objective pattern exam that candidates usually take after completing high school to take admission in one of the top engineering colleges in India. IIT-JEE is regarded internationally as the most challenging engineering admission test.

In 2013, IIT test is replaced by two-phase exam: phase one is JEE Mains and phase two is JEE Advanced. Candidates selected in JEE Mains are eligible to appear in JEE Advanced. Out of every 1,300,000 students, only a handful of 20,000 gets selected every year, and this makes it one of the toughest exams in the world.

Read: 12 Youngest Nobel Prize Winners In The World

4. McKinsey & Company

mckinsey & company

McKinsey & Company is a management consulting firm that conducts quantitative and qualitative analysis in order to evaluate management decisions across worldwide private and public sectors. The firm is known for its extremely difficult hiring process.

To get into McKinsey, you need to face an interview, which is all about your skills and experience. The selected candidates are asked to give a one-hour online exam, which is designed to test their verbal and mathematical reasoning. The next phase is Experience Interview, where they are asked about past experiences, accomplishments, and challenges faced in the career. The last phase is Case Interview in which the firm tests their problem-solving skills by discussing real McKinsey business problems.

3. Master Sommelier Diploma Examination

Master Sommelier Diploma ExaminationImage source: mastersommeliers.org

The Court of Master Sommeliers is an organization established in 1977. Their aim is to encourage improved standards of beverage service, special wine, and food pairing in restaurants and hotels.

The first Master Sommelier exam was held in the UK in 1969, and since then fewer than 250 candidates have been selected. You cannot even guess how selective authorities could get while hiring candidates.

The exam is divided into three processes theory, service and practical testing. The last process is the toughest one. It is scored on the candidate’s verbal abilities to clearly identify and accurately describe six different wines. They even have to identify the grape varieties and country of origin.

2. All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam

university of oxford

Oxford University’s All Souls College seeks to elect Prize Fellows every year. The college selects only two from the field of fifty or more candidates. And what you get once you pass the exam? You become a full-time, salaried Oxford Fellow, which lasts for 7 years (cannot be renewed).

Until 2010, students were required to write a long essay about one word given in the paper, for example, Hope, Miracles, Novelty. Now, the exam has four papers, three hours each. One needs to have factual knowledge as well as an imaginative mind to clear the exam.

1. CA

CA exam

The Chartered Accountancy Exam is conducted in India, designed to combine theoretical study with practical training. A candidate can apply for membership after passing all three levels of examinations conducted by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and completing three years of practical training.

Read: 16 Famous and Greatest Mathematicians

The first level is a Common Proficiency Test that covers four basic subjects – Mercantile laws, fundamentals of Accounting, Economics, and Quantitative aptitude. The second level is the Integrated Professional Competence Course that contains seven subjects, split into groups of four and three. The last level is the CA final examination where all blood, sweat, and tears merge during the last six months. This phase has 2 groups of four subjects, which includes financial reporting, advanced management accounting, information systems control, direct and indirect tax laws.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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30 comments
  • Have you heard of the USMLE Step 3? It’s a 16 hour exam covered over 2 continuous days, with 550 multiple choice questions and 12 simulated 20 minute cases. You should really read about this exam. The questions are a page length to be finished in less than a minute, the exam spans all clinical fields across medicine, all medicine subspecialties, pediatrics, obs/gyn, biostatisitics, general surgery.

    GRE et all are a piece of cake really..

    • Well said Harsh.. the first round includes 336 mcq and 2nd one has 114 mcq. But consider the cutoff scores and competition also. In gre you have to score at least 336-340 out of 340 to get admission in top universities in the world which is definitely not a piece of cake.

  • This is absolutely wrong as aipmt is,according to me,the toughest exam on this planet and in this it is not even mentioned.Strange!!you know what,only 70 seats are there in AIIMS delhi ,out of which 50% is reserved.Approx. 1 lakh students give this exam.So,don’t you think it is d toughest?

    • Hello Priya!
      Well, it’s a national level exam and you have mentioned the seat matrix of Delhi only. Moreover, the toughness level of AIPMT is quite lighter than AIEEE. I would also like to tell you that there is a huge difference between competitive exam and tough exam.
      Thanks for sharing your thought with us 🙂

    • All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam. 2 Candidates selected per year. Even the entire world writes the exam only 2 candidates get the fellowship. Where are our f**** brain goes. If we are in India it doesn’t means Exams in India are the toughest. Idiots at their best.
      Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. Can u fu**** smell 6 wines and say what type of grape variety used and from which country with region and which year it is made without opening your eyes. It will take Infinite years for us to find them.

  • sorry,1.5 million people write jee main 150000 qualify for jee advanced and out of that 10000 people clear iit,acceptance rate 10000/1500000 equals 0.67% it is not over yet if you belong to general category then only 4000 seats are allocated for you(caste reservation system)and you must get below 3000 to get a decent group from a decent iit.iit bombay computer science has only 50 seats and all 1.5 million aim for that..the difficulty of paper is equivalent to that of international olympiads if you feel they are easy then you are wrong,when you write olympiad you will be writing it in one subject that too your favorite,but for jee you will be writing it in 3 subjects(phy,chem,mat) that too at the same time.people whose ranks are below 50 would have been dfeinitely successful,and mostly Top 10 rankers would possess a medal from international olympiad and top 5 would possess a gold medal.

  • The toughest is IAS , not IES and IIT is tougher than CAT and GATE….
    Which noob made this list? Probably some humanities-studying dumbass.
    15 lakh aspirants appear for IIT and 1.5 qualify the first round , after which tere is the second round which is much tougher than the previous one , and only 10,000 get selected. Now you may think that your job is done , but no. If you belong to general category , you only have 5000 or less seats. The rest are reserved for SCs , STs , OBCs and PWDs. Try qualifiying that

    • it’s 12 lakhs not 15 lakhs in iit, with 10,000 selection the selection ratio is around 1:120. in civil services, total number of candidates=5 lakh, total selections around 400(IAS,IPS,IFS, etc), selection ratio 1:1000. in IES(Indian engineering services) selection ratio is around 1:500.

    • Whatever happens 1000+ are selected each year. You are the most dumbest person in the world.
      All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam –> only 2 person in the entire world is selected per year. you Idiot of Idiotic idiot. 200 in 40 year history. Do u think only 200 IAS were during this period.
      Master Sommelier Diploma Examination –> Can you fu*** taste a wine with your eyes closed and find the type of grape used (there are 10000+ wine grape varieties in the world) and tell where it is from which country and that too which part (e.g.Daulatabad grape) and also the year the wine is made (how will you find the taste difference of 1778 wine in spain and 1994 wine in switzerland) just by tasting. Fu**** we Indians just need to read some pretty easy books compared to these exams. IAS may be tough but each year there are 1000+ IAS but in the entire world there are 227 Sommelier who take the exam Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. There are only some 200 cleared All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam.First know about all the above exams before giving your answers. You are proving how an Indain mind will be as like “India is best. Indian exams are tough. india team is best.” Your comments makes no sense.

    • Huh! You fool… Don’t you know the difference between competitive and Toughest exams…IIT is the most competitive exam and applicants are huge in numbers and available seats are low. Whereas CA is the toughest academic exam in india coz the difficulty level of questions will drool you. Haven’t you heard a dialogue in india that the guy keep attempting CA every year but couldn’t and there comes a point of time when the guy is still attempting CA while the girl who used to study with her is mother of Three. Anyways nothing is this world is impossible!

  • U.S. Department of Justice,
    Fact: G-D is! (t)HE GREATEST TEACHER
    Q: is there a Test on (t)HIS planet impossible to pass?
    A: G-D’S Bar [if you (wee spirit) don’t know G-D is! Testing you]

  • bro(t)her! if you tell us THAT (you love G-D)
    then show us THAT
    p.s.
    ‘tell and show’
    p.p.s.
    bro(t)her! if you tell us THAT (you love G-D)
    then show us THAT
    1) by(e) you keeping HIS Commandments (behave!)
    2) by(e) you righting wrongs (act!)

  • U.S. Department of Justice? (Scooby Do!o),
    where are you?
    1) up a Tree
    2) in a Tea ching
    3) up on a Tee
    or
    4(e!) all (t)HE above
    Fact: I (knocked) wrote to(o) the NY FBI 2 times in 2011;
    the NY FBI never wrote ‘me back’ (so sad and how silly to(o)
    not open)
    Fact: I got back and I am saving
    both signed green cards (USPS Form 3811)
    p.s.
    Q: who was in charge of the NY FBI then (tunc)?
    A: Janice Fedarcyk
    Q: did not Janice Fedarcyk work closely with Loretta Lynch?
    A: si! (I got THAT today (yea!) from Loretta Lynch hearing)
    p.p.s.
    Q: did those women ‘see’ the 50 (five o) poems!
    I delivered for G-D! (ho ho ho)?
    Q: did those women ‘hear’ about the 50 (five o) poems!
    I delivered for G-D! (ho ho ho)?
    Q: did those women ‘see’ my written complaint(s)
    I mailed for G-D! (ho ho ho)?
    Q: did those women ‘hear’ about my written complaint(s)
    I mailed for G-D! (ho ho ho)?
    Q: did those women “investigate! IME doctor fraud”?

    Q: did the NY FBI ‘take and pass’ G-D’S Mail around?

    Q: did the NY FBI throw out (discard)(abort) G-D’S Mail?
    Q: where is G-D’S Mail right now (nunc)?
    Q: is the NY FBI a modern day Jonah?
    Q: does not every single law enforcement agency have a duty to(o)
    the American taxpayer/complainant/victim/claimant to(o)
    1) accept complaint (IME doctor fraud!)
    2) investigate complaint (IME doctor fraud!)
    3) communicate with complainant (me me me)
    4) resolve complaint in a (t)imely manner (180 days or less)
    p.p.p.s.
    U.S. Department of Justice,
    please answer (t)HIS questions
    p.p.p.p.s.
    Q: what’s FOIA?

  • _____________________[yoo-hoo] [yoo-hoo]
    U.S. Department of Justice,
    come out, come out, wherever you are
    G-D wants y’all to(o)
    ‘take and drink’ (t)HIS Cup of (not hemlock) T:
    On 9/6/2013 NYS WCB commissioner(s) Munnelly +
    Williams and Higgins (2 non-attorneys) ‘reviewed (examined) and rescinded’
    my NYS WCALJudge Robert Anderson’s decision.
    My attorneys at Fine, Olin & Anderman appealed and requested
    a Full Board Review (FBR).
    On 11/25/2013 NYS WCB chair Beloten solely denied me
    a Full Board Review (FBR).
    On 12/12/2013 the Third Judicial Department decided that
    “only a three member panel can deny a Full Board Review”
    (see Scalo v. Perry & Sons)
    On 12/27/2013 NYS WCB chair Beloten got 2 subordinates
    (Libous and Munnelly) to sign order denying me
    a Full Board Review (FBR).
    p.s.
    Q1: was not Munnelly NYS WCB general counsel and NYS WCB ethics officer?
    Q2: how much (t)ime did each person spend ‘reviewing’ (examining)
    my NYS WCALJudge’s decision?
    Q3: did Libous (who is a nurse?) sign order denying me a Full Board Review
    while in Florida or while in New York?
    Q4: why is a nurse (or any non-attorney) ‘reviewing’ (examining)
    any NYS WCALJudge’s decision?
    Q5: if Munnelly + 2 non-attorneys ‘reviewed (examined) and rescinded’
    my NYS WCALJudge’s decision in September 2013
    then why is Munnelly again being asked by his boss to deny me
    a Full Board Review (FBR)?
    p.p.s.
    5 = a hand
    p.p.p.s.
    Trust but Verify
    p.p.p.p.s.
    NYS WCB commissioner bios
    (google it! vs google chrome it!) (yahoo it! vs yabba dabba do!o it!)
    p.p.p.p.p.s.
    sip! sip!

  • U.S. Department of Justice,
    Q: Nonfeasance is ______________?
    A: The intentional failure to perform a required duty or obligation.
    Nonfeasance is a term used in Tort Law to describe inaction
    that allows or results in harm to a person or to property.
    An act of nonfeasance can result in liability if
    (1) the actor owed a duty of care toward the injured person,
    (2) the actor failed to act on that duty, and
    (3) the failure to act resulted in injury.

  • U.S. Department of Justice,
    Q: Sloth (Latin, acedia) is _________________?
    A: spiritual laziness!
    Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming guilty of sloth.
    In the Christian faith, sloth rejects grace and God.
    Sloth has also been defined as
    a failure to do things that one should do.
    By this definition, evil exists when
    so-called good men/women (I added women for G-D!) fail to act.

  • So the CA exam is on all objective levels more difficult then the Sommelier exam? Who compiled this list? Also the LSAT is one of the most hardest exams as well but is only ranked at 9th?

  • Google

    Please stop by the sites we adhere to, like this a single, because it represents our picks in the web.

  • The MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) in the U.S. is much harder than the LSAT and GRE. Why isn’t it on this list?

  • quotations

    […]here are some hyperlinks to web-sites that we link to because we believe they are worth visiting[…]

  • Have taken GRE and CA exams. CA is definitely not the toughest. CA should not even be on the list. The exam and the subject matter in CA exams are not tough at all – the grading is tough because it is quite arbitrary. If they conducted Indian CA exams in the computerized multiple question format like CA exams in the U.S. (or like 99% of other professional exams in India and around the world) one will realize this. Moreover, Indian CA exams involve a lot of ‘mugging’ (rote memorization) and the exams questions require very little application of the subject matter. GRE being one of the toughest is also a joke. I studied for the exam for one week and did pretty well. The math is basic high school math and the verbal section is not that hard either (personally I found verbal super easy). However, GRE at least is application based and does not require mugging (except the vocabulary part to some extent). The professional exams in medicine and law are probably the toughest. USMLE is most likely one of the toughest (if not the toughest) exam on the planet – the sheer volume of subject matter and the exam itself (3 levels, two day 7-9 hour long exams with minimal break time) – is pretty insane. My older sibling took the USMLE and I know for a fact that including professional exams in medicine/law with Indian CA exam and GRE is an absolute joke. No offense, but people who write these blog posts really should do some research. It is clear from the article and the writer’s bio that the writer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Also, in my humble opinion I find professional exams in the U.S. much tougher because the questions are tricky and require test takers to think and apply what they have learnt (not just blind mugging), something many Indian exams like CA lack (I can only speak for CA – perhaps this is not the case with other fields like engineering etc.)

  • Just to give you an idea as to how tough is CA final?

    A person who got 99.5 % in board exams in science stream.He stood first in a section of 26 highly meritorious students,everyone from his section made it to IITs but he decided to do CA and he was not able to score a minimum of 50 marks in all the subjects of Ca final.His name is Vinod Gupta(you can google his name),today he is leading Direct Tax teacher at Ca final level,assists Finance Ministry,teaches IRS officers(people like Arvind Kejriwal) and he is also among the richest individuals of Delhi.

    My friend who passed Ca final in first attempt in nov 13 when only 1000 people had passed Ca Final (pass % was 3.11%),he got placed in Goldman Sachs while people from other fields were getting placed in that Co. only if they were a graduate both from IIT(top 4) and IIM(A/B/C).In other words, people from other fields were getting placed in that CO only if they had studied for 6 yrs (i.e, engg from iit and mba from iim) while this guy (my friend) made it to that CO. merely at the age of 20 just by studying for 4 yrs.This is the essence of passing CA Final in first attempt. The syllabus of CA final is 10 times more voluminous that of Civil services. There are Eight fucking huge subjects which are like fucking ocean. Those operations research parts merely come of 20 to 30 marks in the 5th paper known as Advanced management accounting. Each question paper’s length being 20 to 30 pages,you got to complete in 3 hrs. Moreover, marking is also very strict.

    A CA final dropout went on to score 100 percentile in CAT exam you can see it for yourself:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7jJwzm7aDrE&t=338s
    General motors cfo is Dhivya,who is a CA. General motors is way bigger than companies like Google, Facebook etc. Outside India,CA earns 10 times more than what they earn in India.